Egypt and UAE: Not Worlds Apart

By Felicia Baratz 

Felicia Baratz is a young writer and wanderer living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor for CooksandTravelBooks.com, she’s writes about the hottest travel spots and cultural trends. When she isn’t writing, you can most likely find her drawing, gaming, or attempting to brew the perfect beer. Follow her on Twitter @SkepticalKitteh!

 

From the time I was a kid, I’d always wanted to visit Egypt, a land that seems stuck in history, while simultaneously moving forward. My dreams came true when I visited Egypt in January of 2009 for a school trip.

When I arrived in Cairo, I immediately felt overcome with a sense of adventure and awe. The trip lasted three weeks, during which time I visited many cities including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. I climbed to the top of Mt. Sinai, ate dinner on islands in the Nile River, went on two camel rides, shopped at the local bazaar’s and even received several marriage proposals from street vendors.

I left Egypt feeling an affinity toward the country and an intense curiosity about the entire Middle East region. The history and culture keep drawing me back in whenever I start to plan my next trip.

The next time I have the chance to travel to the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is the first destination on my list. While I’ve never been to the UAE, I’ve been told that if I enjoyed Egypt, I’d love the UAE. They’re pretty similar, so my experience in Egypt will definitely help me when I visit.

Clothing and Vendors

I was quite surprised at the blend of western clothing and authentic Egyptian and Islamic garments. Many women wore western style outfits of jeans and t-shirts, but with the hijab, the customary Islamic head covering. Some women wore full tunics with head coverings; some men wore full tunics as well, called a Galabeya. However, for every authentic garment, another Egyptian would walk by wearing jeans, a hooded jacket and sneakers. It was pretty surreal. I’m also a bit of a scarf-o-holic, and I bought more scarves than I could actually get home. I had to wear two on the plane. I imagine the Emirates will have just as many clothing vendors, so I’ll either have to bring a bigger suitcase or find cheap international shipping.

The attire in the UAE is quite similar. I’d be able to blend right in, especially given the Emirate’s growing expatriate population. I’ve heard that many Emirati males wear a full length tunic called a kandura and women wear an abaya, a black over-garment. 

Food

My favorite the foods in Egypt definitely came from the street vendors and open-air cafés. Since it’s an Islamic nation, you’re out of luck if you want pork or alcohol, but you can find just about anything else. I ate a lot of grilled meats, veggies, shrimp, rice, breads and lentils.

Arab cuisine is pretty standard across countries, so the Emirates serve many of the same foods. Being situated between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Oman, much of the Emirati diet consists of a blend of those country’s staples including a lot of rice, fish and other meats. Coffee and tea are wildly popular, as they were in Egypt, and they are typically consumed during meal times or served to guests to a home or business. Many jewelry shops in Egypt even served tea to customers.

Museums and Monuments

Much of my time in Egypt was spent exploring its history. I saw The Great Pyramids of Giza, The Sphinx and spent an entire day wandering through burial sites at The Valley of the Kings. I visited King Tut’s Tomb and saw temples, museums and ruins. I recorded my adventures in my travel journal to help me remember everything that I saw. I took countless boat rides on the Nile, visited a camel market and even went inside of an Egyptian’s home.

The Emirates offer many amazing museums as well. The Sharjah Heritage District has 17 museums alone. The Abu Dhabi cultural foundation supports many ancient art galleries and preserves relics. The culture, art and food of the Emirates sound rich and plentiful—and might just give Egypt a run for its money.

Felicia Baratz is a young writer and wanderer living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor for CooksandTravelBooks.com, she’s writes about the hottest travel spots and cultural trends. When she isn’t writing, you can most likely find her drawing, gaming, or attempting to brew the perfect beer. Follow her on Twitter @SkepticalKitteh!

 

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